Louis Esterhuizen. Dwarsklap na Amerikaanse digters

Via sy blog by Huffington Post het Anis Shivani ‘n striemende aanval op die Amerikaanse digkuns geloods; in dié mate dat hy die opskorting van die totale digkuns bepleit: “The truth about American poetry is that it is in very bad shape. The professional poetry establishment has taken care to mark serious criticism coming its way as sour grapes, but the quality of poetry being produced by American poets regularly awarded the highest prizes in the land and recognized as the equals of past masters is not meant to last this pathetic moment of self-absorption and lassitude.”

Dit is veral gerekende digters soos Sharon Olds, Jorie Graham, Louise Glück en Philip Levine wat saam met hul “camp followers” die teiken vir sy gramskap is aangesien hul digwerk, volgens Shivani, ‘n belediging is vir die leser: “Their very project is to participate – as the front guard of a regressive political elite – in the annihilation of common decency at all levels. Their poetry is garish, troublingly content-free, indecorous, and emotionless. Readers are smart not to read this trash.”

Na hierdie openingsaldo bespreek hy elkeen van die vier digters waarna hy hierbo verwys het afsonderlik en met genoeg salpetersuur om etlike volbloedhingste skuim-om-die-bek te laat steier. Oor Olds het hy hom byvoorbeeld soos volg uitgelaat: “One would think that a celebrated female poet like Sharon Olds would show some signs that she had assimilated the key ideas of the twentieth century – or even most since the late eighteenth century. But Olds is like a time-trap in medievalism, stuck in her obsessions with bodily flows, the pain of childbirth, and the witchery of men who love like it hurts, in a universe that might as well be populated entirely with priests and oracles.”

Against the Workshop

Against the Workshop

Ensovoorts, ensovoorts. Maar na hy dié vier veelbekroonde digters deeglik afgeransel het, trek hy los met ‘n hele rits pertinente vrae wat ‘n mens nogal tot introspeksie dwing: “What to do then? Where do poets of broad imagination, genuine classical mooring, wit and irony and humor, and sympathy across the class lines come from? Can a culture, so decrepit and inhumane that it boasts of its own periodic death at every turn, produce broad-minded poets? Or are these the best we have to live with? Will their work survive, or will they be footnotes to a transitional age, where history took a break, prosperity made their kind of work possible, and lapsed standards of judgment let them get away with their fraud for so long?”

Nou ja, toe. Gaan lees gerus die volledige blog by Huffington Post. Dit is ‘n lang, omvattende beskouing oor die stand van die Amerikaanse digkuns. En die gevolgtrekkings is nié gunstig nie; trouens ‘n mens kry deurgans die gevoel dat Shivani nié te ver dwaal van die voerkraal wat hy vir homself met sy onlangse publikasie, Against the Workshop: Provocations, Polemics, Controversies (2011: Tampu Press), afgekamp het nie.

Vir jou leesplesier volg Louise Glück se gedig “Horse” hieronder. Oordeel maar self of hierdie vers ‘n digter van haar statuur waardig is,  al dan nie.




What does the horse give you
That I cannot give you?

I watch you when you are alone,
When you ride into the field behind the dairy,
Your hands buried in the mare’s
Dark mane.

Then I know what lies behind your silence:
Scorn, hatred of me, of marriage. Still,
You want me to touch you; you cry out
As brides cry, but when I look at you I see
There are no children in your body.
Then what is there?

Nothing, I think. Only haste
To die before I die.

In a dream, I watched you ride the horse
Over the dry fields and then
Dismount: you two walked together;
In the dark, you had no shadows.
But I felt them coming toward me
Since at night they go anywhere,
They are their own masters.

Look at me. You think I don’t understand?
What is the animal
If not passage out of this life?


© Louise Glück (2004)



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Een Kommentaar op “Louis Esterhuizen. Dwarsklap na Amerikaanse digters”

  1. Lekker storie, Louis. Kyk ook na

    Anis Shivani: The most overrated arbiter of what’s overrated in literature
    Openpage, August 12, 2010